Bill Fails to Change Police Lineups

The House failed to pass The Eyewitness Identification Reform Act purposed to standardize identification lineups. The law would have required all police lineups to be conducted by a random officer who has no prior knowledge about the case or the suspect. The thought behind the bill was that if an unaffiliated officer ran the lineup, there would be no chance of bias or pressure for the witness to pick a suspect.

According to an article from the Florida Bar News, attorney Perry Thurston says that the bill did not pass because of law enforcement influence.

“They thought it was an excellent idea, but they didn’t want to be ordered to do it. They wanted to do it on their own time frame.”

We hear two arguments, both valid points. One argument is that this bill was purposed to prevent the innocent from being accused and to protect law enforcement from any unintended bias; the other argument is that this law potentially casts doubt on law enforcement’s integrity.

Sen. Steve Oelrich of Gainesville is quoted saying

“The argument can’t be both ways that we have every confidence in our cops, yet we are going to make them pay the price by having a law that casts a doubt on their integrity. This is a problem with misidentification by the witness, not a problem with our law enforcement and our law enforcement’s integrity.”

 

Although the bill died, attention was drawn to this proposition and the fact that police officials liked it – they just didn’t want to be mandated. Just because it didn’t pass, doesn’t mean officers may not adopt this procedure for future lineups.

Can Police Now Enter Homes Without a Warrant?

We’ve all seen it in the movies; “cop” bangs on door, people inside scatter and hide weapons/drugs, someone answers the door and “cops” search the home. Pretty standard right? This is not what happened in a recent case in Kentucky…

According to an article from the Orlando Sentinel, Kentucky police were following a man who they believed to be a drug dealer. The man went into an apartment building but the law enforcement officials lost track of which unit he entered. The police smelled marijuana coming from one door and knocked on it. They heard rummaging and announced they were coming in. They did not find the drug dealer but instead found Hollis King with marijuana and cocaine. King convicted of drug trafficking but later his conviction was overturned by the Kentucky Supreme Court accusing the officers of violating his 4th Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure). The U.S Supreme Court then heard an appeal from prosecutors and reversed the ruling. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr said

“…the police conduct in this case ‘was entirely lawful,’ and they were justified in breaking down the door to prevent the destruction of the evidence.”

 

The Supreme Court passed a ruling allowing law enforcement to enter homes without a search warrant. If law officers knock loudly on the door and hear suspicious noises coming from inside, they can enter the home without a warrant or consent. Before this ruling, the law stood that officials could only enter the home without a search warrant if they had consent from the owner or if there was an emergency situation.

In the article, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argues

“the court’s approach arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement in drug cases. She said the police did not face a ‘genuine emergency’ and should not have been allowed to enter the apartment without a warrant.”

 

This new law could potentially complicate the job of criminal defense lawyers because in the past, there was a logical defense when police didn’t have the explicit right to enter the home of the suspect. Now, we may come across the gray area of what was thought to have been heard and what the accused says happened. The line of violating the 4th Amendment could become blurred.

The Supreme Court arrived at an 8-1 decision allowing law enforcement officials to enter without a warrant if they are in pursuit of someone with drugs, knock loudly and can hear the destruction of evidence.

So the police didn’t read you your rights…

This doesn’t mean your case will go away. All this means, is that any incriminating statements that you had made cannot be used against you in court. If the officer wants to ask you questions other than your name and address, s/he will then read your rights. At this time, you do not have to answer any questions because they will be used against you in the court of law.

A tactic that law enforcement sometimes use is asking you questions before reading you rights, getting you to admit something and then reading you your rights and asking the questions again. For the most part, the person under question would assume since they already made a confession or incriminating statement, the officers already know the truth so how else could it hurt them? This is false. Since they got you to admit something after reading you your rights, all statements thereafter will be used against you. Anything you say before your rights are read cannot and will not be used as incriminating evidence. The most important thing you can do while being investigated after an arrest is to call a criminal defense lawyer and make no statements before doing so.

Facebook Aids to Fighting Crime

Facebook is everywhere these days and is not just being used as a personal way to stay connected to friends. Sheriff’s offices around the country have been utilizing Facebook as another way to get information out to the public, and for the public to relay information back to Crime Stoppers.

On Monday morning, the Polk County Sheriff’s office posted on Facebook a video of a man stealing at 75 year old woman’s wallet in a local laundromat. Two hours later an anonymous source contacted Crime Stoppers and reported who the man was and where he worked. Sure enough, it was the right suspect and the man was charged with petty theft. Bay News 9 covered the story and that video can be found on their website.

Although this was a smaller crime, think about the power that Facebook and social networking has. Not only do crimes get solved thanks to fan pages, but since Facebook is so accessible, everyday citizens can act as crime stopping heroes.

Polk County Sheriff’s office updates the page daily and have said that this is not the first crime that Facebook fans have helped them solve. They send all press releases and Crime Stopper bulletins to Facebook where they have over 7,000 fans.

Other Sheriff’s offices also have Facebook pages including Hillsborough County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife commission stated that they made over 100 arrests through Facebook.

If you are looking for Legal advice, Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Lori D. Palmieri also has a presence on Facebook.

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